Petrol providers in Newton Stewart have unanimously spoken out against the plans for a superstore with filling station on an out-of-town site.
Jamie Wood, from Wigtown Road Service Station, said: “I would prefer that there won’t be such a development because it would have a detrimental effect on our business and possibly threaten its viability, causing us to reorganise, possibly reduce staff and rethink how the business would operate.
“The wider aspect of all this is that it would not be good for the economy of Newton Stewart on the whole, primarily because of where the site is, outside of the town directly adjacent to the A75, meaning it will be drawing customers off the road and reducing the number of passers-by that come into Newton Stewart to get fuel and visit other shops and businesses in the town. A supermarket there would stop them coming in, especially the ferry traffic.
“Of the claims the developers made, I question their view that it would prevent leakage from the town as the store is about the same size as the Sainsbury’s and Aldi supermarkets we already have. If customers can’t get what they want just now, they still won’t get it from another same-size supermarket.
“Also, they say it will create 150 jobs. That may be the case in the short term as these businesses initially take on large numbers staff but half of them are then made redundant. You would find out quite quickly that nothing like that number are employed. There would also be fewer jobs in existing businesses in town.
“Then there is the belief that drivers would benefit from supermarket fuel prices but it’s not as good a thing as they are suggesting. Tesco in Dumfries is more often than not the dearest in the town.”
At Creebridge Filling Station, John Dobson said the supermarket proposal was on the wrong site and should never get planning permission. He said: “It should fail for three or four reasons. Planning regulations say you can’t build anything off the A75 that would distract drivers, something that would make them brake suddenly. Planning policy is to get people off the A75 and into the towns and villages.
“This supermarket is the same size as the ones we’ve got so it serves no purpose and it’s in the wrong place. The best place to build a supermarket is in Minnigaff on the land beside the Scottish Natural Heritage offices. It can’t be seen from the A75 and it would be opposite any new housing that’s going to be built. If you are going to build a supermaket here it’s got to be a really big one that sells dry goods, televisions and clothes, to attract people to Newton Stewart.
“As for petrol prices, the three filling stations here tend to keep prices competitive anyway. The one thing we can’t fight against is the 5p or 10p off a litre when you buy £60 of goods.”
Wigtownshire Chamber of Commerce has launched an online petition against plans for the supermarket at Barnkirk. The petition is open to anyone who wishes to object to the plans by developers, CWP. The Chamber says the development would devastate Newton Stewart town centre.
But a Facebook poll this week shows an overwhelming majority in support of the proposals, with 312 users voting “yes” and only 59 voting “no”.